By DAVID GREEN
Fungus aficionados have loved the wet fall weather that lasted through September. Mushrooms seldom seen in recent years have burst forth to provide an interesting walk through the woods—and even through the yard.
Two Morenci residents reported finding morels growing—one in a person’s back yard, another in front of a downtown business—but those were likely a “false morel” not suitable for eating.
“We certainly had the weather for it,” said Morenci climate observer George Isobar. “I recorded rainfall on 20 of September’s 30 days and we ended with a total of 6.01 inches.”
The temperature came out to be a full degree below average, according to the National Weather Service office in Toledo.
“Mushrooms are a very interesting form of life,” Isobar said. “You might think of a mushroom as the flower of a fungus because that’s where the ‘seeds’ are produced.”
A mushroom may appear to pop up out of nowhere, but it’s actually a small part of a large fungus that lives mostly underground. The fungus is present even without a mushroom showing.
As Ohio State Extension Service educator Glen Arnold describes it, the underground portion is like a vast web of tiny threads weaving through the soil. You’re not likely to see it if you dig into the soil because the threads are mostly microscopic.
The appearance of a mushroom occurs when the threads grow together after a rainy period. Temperature plays a vital role in mushroom development and that varies with the species of the fungus.
Many mushrooms have gills on the underside and that’s where its spores (“seeds”) are stored before falling out and spreading with the wind.
Underneath the surface, fungus is hard at work breaking down dead plant matter to release nutrients for plants to use.
The profusion of mushrooms this fall across a large part of the U.S. has also led to an increase in mushroom poisoning.
A month ago Isobar said it was likely to experience the final 90° weather of the season, along with the possibility of the first reading in the 30s. He was right on both counts, but not by much.
There were three daily high temperatures in the 90s and those fell on the first three days of the month, with a high of 96° Sept. 3.
Down it went after that, with the highs reaching into the 80s only twice for the remainder of the month.
“It only made it into the 60s for 14 days last month,” Isobar said, “and there were plenty of chilly mornings.”
There were six mornings in the 40s and below, with a low of 38 recorded Sept. 16.
Rainfall ended about 2.5 inches above normal.
OCTOBER—Isobar doesn’t want to spoil readers’ enjoyment of the excellent fall weather this week, but he does want to point out that sometimes it snows in October.
“Take the last 36 years,” he said. “We’ve had at least a trace of snow on 10 of those years.”
It’s seldom anything measurable—unlike 1980 when when 2.6 inches fell—but then again, there’s been a lot of wacky weather in the past year.